Monday, November 12, 2012

SEXUALITY- The inner power, a respector of nodody who lives in denial

SEXUALITY- The inner power that respects nobody who lives in denial

We are all powerfully, incurably, and wonderfully sexed, this can be understood as a conspiracy in the globalized world if there is no proper mixture between God and nature. Sexuality lies right under out skin, we can breathe, walk, eat and smell sex depending on what you conceive it to be. Sometimes we do become naïve to think sex is something that falls from heaven into our bodies, that even we tend to deny our very self of our sexuality and then put up with a different sensitive skin of denial. We need to get time to discover the stamina of our sexuality, its  a spiritual journey that needs integral approach and understanding. 
 
Sexuality will always make itself felt, consciously or unconsciously. Nature is almost cruel in this regard, particularly to the young ones developing into adulthood. This can be a disaster even to the old who have always found it hard to talk about sexual issues in their lives. Sexuality occupies a big percentage to the young ladies and men and as such if not handled well, it just derails them of the strand like a tsunami, they cannot resist the sexual waves in life. Here we are talking about a force and above all an emotional force to the equivalent of the pressure pot.
 
 There are a lot of physical and moral dangers in a still-developing child walking around in a fully adult body. Further, today this is being exacerbated by the fact that we reaching puberty at an ever younger age and are marrying at an ever-later one. This makes for a situation, almost the norm in many cultures, where a young girl or boy reaches puberty at age eleven or twelve and will get married only about twenty years later.
 
 This begs the obvious question: How is his or her sexuality to be emotionally and morally contained during all those years? Where does that leave him or her in the struggle to remain faithful to the commandments? Admittedly, nature seems almost cruel here, but it has its own angle. Its dominant concern is to get each of us into the gene pool and all those powerful hormones it begins pouring into our bodies at adolescence and all those myriad ways in which it heats up our emotions have the same intent, it wants us to be fruitful and multiply, to perpetuate ourselves and our own species.
 
And nature is uncompromising here: At every level of our being (physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual) there is a pressure, a sexual one, to get us into the gene pool. So when you next see a young man or woman trying to impress his or her sexuality, be both sympathetic and understanding, you were once there, and nature is just trying to get him or her into the gene pool. Such are its ways and such are its propensities, and God is in on the conspiracy. Of course getting into the gene pool means much more than physically having children, though that is deep, deep imperative written everywhere inside us that may be ignored only in the face of some major psychological and moral risks.
 
There are other ways of having children, though nature has its own way of revealing itself. It wants children in the flesh. But the full bloom of sexuality, generative living, takes on other life-giving forms. We have all heard the slogan: Have a child. Plant a tree. Write a book. There are different ways to get into the gene pool and all of us know persons who, while not having children of their own and neither writing a book nor planting a tree, are wonderfully generative women and men. Indeed the religious vow of celibacy is predicated on that truth.

Sexuality also has a powerful spiritual dimension. But, with that being admitted, we may never be naïve to its sheer, blind power. Dealing with the brute and unrelenting power of our sexuality lies at the root of many of our deepest psychological and moral struggles. This takes on many guises, but the pressure always has the same intent: Nature and God keep an unrelenting pressure on us to get into the gene pool, that is, to always open our lives to something bigger than ourselves and to always remain cognizant of the fact that intimacy with others, the cosmos, and God is our real goal.
 
It is no great surprise that our sexuality is so largely impressive that it would have us want to make love to the whole world. Isn't that our real goal As well, sexuality wreaks havoc with many people's church lives. It is no secret that today one of the major reasons why many young people, and indeed people of all ages, are no longer going regularly to their churches has to do, in one way or the other, with their struggles with sexuality and their perception of how their churches view their situation.
 
The point here is not that we and the churches should change the commandments regarding sex, but that we should do a couple of things: First, we should be more realistic to acknowledge its brute power in our lives and integrate sexual complexity more honestly into our spiritualities.

 Second, we should be far more empathic and pastorally sensitive to the issues that beset people because of their sexuality. Sexuality is a sacred a fire. It takes it origins in God and is everywhere, powerfully present inside creation. Denial is not our friend here.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Prayer as a school of Hope

PRAYER AS A SCHOOL OF HOPE The first essential setting for learning hope is prayer. When no one listens to me anymore, God still listens to me. When I can no longer talk to anyone, I can always talk to God. When there is no longer anyone to help me deal with a need or expectation that goes beyond the human capacity for hope, he can help me. (CCC 2657). The Holy Spirit, who instructs us to celebrate the liturgy in expectation of Christ’s return, teaches us to pray in hope. Conversely, the prayer of the church and personal prayer nourishes hope in us. The Psalms in the concrete way teach us to fix our hope in God: I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry. (Ps. 40:2). As St. Paul prayed: ‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope ’ (Rom 15:13). When you have been plunged into complete solitude… you are never totally alone. St. Augustine in his homily on the first letter of John, describes very beautifully the intimate relationship between prayer and hope. He defines prayer as an exercise of desire. Man was created for greatness- for God himself was created to be filled by God. But this heart is too small for the greatness to which is destined. It must be stretched. How do we do this? “Suppose that God wishes to fill you with honey [symbol of God’s tenderness and goodness]; but if you are full of vinegar, where will you put honey”? The vessel that is your heart must first be enlargened and then cleansed, freed from the vinegar and its taste. This requires hard work and is painful, and in this way alone do we become suited to that for which we are destined. (1 John 4:6). To pray is not to step outside history and withdraw to our own private corner of happiness. When we pray properly, we undergo a process of inner purification which opens us up to God and thus to our fellow human beings as well. In prayer: - We must learn what we can truly ask of God-what is worthy of God. - We learn that we cannot pray against others. - We must learn that we cannot ask for the superficial and comfortable things that we desire at this moment- that meager, misplaced hope that leads us away from God. - We must learn to purify our desires and our hopes. We must free ourselves from the hidden lies with which we deceive ourselves. God sees through them, and when we come before God, we too are forced to recognize them. But who can discern his errors? Clear me from the hidden faults (Ps 19:12, 18:13). Failure to recognize my guilt, the illusion of my innocence, does not justify me and does not save me, because I am culpable for the numbness of my conscience and my incapacity to recognize the evil in me for what it is. If God does not exist, perhaps I have to seek refuge in these lies, because there is no one who can forgive me; no one who is the true criterion. Your encounter with God should awaken your conscience in such a way that it no longer aims at self-justification, and is no longer a mere reflection of you and those of your contemporaries who shape your thinking, but it becomes a capacity for listening to Good itself. For prayer to develop this power of purification, it must on the one hand be something very personal, an encounter between my intimate self and God, the living God. It must be something which is constantly guided and enlightened by the great prayers of the church and of the saints, by liturgical prayers, in which the lord teaches us again and again how to pray properly. Prayer has to have this element of intermingling of public and personal prayer. This is how we can speak about God and God speaking to us. In this way we undergo those purifications by which we become open to God and are prepared for the service of our fellow human beings. We become capable of the great hope and thus we become ministers of hope for others. Hope in the Christian sense is hope for others as well. It is an active hope, in which we struggle to prevent things moving towards the ‘perverse end.’ It is an active hope also in the sense that we keep the world open to God. Only in this way does it continue to be a truly human hope. Fr. Joseph Baptist Nyamunga, SSA Tweet@ omuhulundu Blog: nyamusus.blogspot.com

Friday, September 21, 2012

SPEAKING THE TRUTH PRUDENTLY

Truth alone is not enough. It must be balanced off with the other transcendental properties of God: oneness, goodness, and beauty. That might sound abstract, but what it means concretely is that sometimes we can have all the right answers and still be wrong. How? If we are acting in truth how can we be wrong? The first pitfall is this: We may be acting out of truth and, in fact, doing all the right things, but our energy can be wrong. T.S. Eliot once famously said: "The last temptation is the greatest treason: To do the right deed for the wrong reason." We can see what is at stake here by looking at the older brother of the prodigal son. On the surface his devotion to his father lacks nothing. He rightly attests that his life is blameless and a paradigm of filial devotion. He has kept all the commandments, has never left his father's house, and has done all the required work. The irony is that he fails to notice that he is not in fact inside his father's house, but is standing outside of it and is being gently invited in by his father. What is keeping him outside since after all he is doing everything correctly? Bitterness and anger. His actions are correct, but his heart is wrong. Bitterness and anger are not the right energy to fuel truth. We can be scrupulously faithful and still find ourselves standing outside of God's house and outside the circle of community and celebration because of a bitter heart. Gratitude is the energy that ultimately needs to fuel the truth. Like the older brother of the prodigal son, we can be doing everything right and still, somehow, be wrong. And where this is particularly important in terms of a challenge is in our efforts, both as individuals and as church, to offer the truth, the right answers, to those around us, be that our own children who no longer go to church or society as a whole. If, inside of our speaking the truth, there are elements of elitism, arrogance, anger, lack of respect, lack of understanding, or worse still, embittered moralizing, our truth will not be heard, not because our truth is wrong but because our energy is. That is why Jesus warns us to "speak our truth in parables". Truth is not a sledgehammer; it is an invitation that we must respectfully offer others. And there is still a second potential pitfall: We can have the right answers and the right energy, but have the wrong understanding of those answers. We see this, for example, in Mark's Gospel when Jesus asks the disciples the question: "Who do you say that I am?" Peter answers, and answers correctly, by saying: "You are the Christ, the Messiah." But he is immediately shut down by Jesus ("Don't tell that to anyone!") and is subsequently rebuked with the words: "Get behind me, Satan!" Why? Wasn't he correct? Peter's answer was correct, Jesus was the Christ, but his understanding of what that meant was mostly wrong. For Peter, the concept of a Messiah connoted earthly power and especially earthly privilege, whereas for Jesus it meant suffering and dying. Peter had the right answer, but the wrong understanding of that answer. Some scholars speculate that this is the real reason behind the so-called "messianic secret" in the Gospels, where Jesus repeatedly asks his disciples to not reveal his identity. His reluctance to have his disciples broadcast publicly who he is was based upon his fear that they could not, before the resurrection and Pentecost, properly understand his identity and would invariably preach a false message. We can have the right answers and still be wrong because we have the wrong energy to go along with the answers or because we have a wrong understanding of the answers. It is good to take that to heart, especially when we step out prophetically either religiously or morally or socially. We may well have the water of life, the truth that sets people free, and the right cause, but nobody except our own kind will accept to receive it from us if our energy is wrong or our understanding of that truth is wrong. It is easy to rationalize that it is because we are prophetic, the faithful remnant, the last warriors of truth still standing, that we are not being heard and why we are hated. But, more often than not, we are not being listened to because we are misguided, elitist, non-empathic, or flat-out unloving, not because we are warriors for truth or justice. And so we need to be humble and heed Jesus' warning to guard the "messianic secret" and "speak our truth in parables". In brief, we need to be solicitous always lest a false energy behind our truth or a misunderstanding of that truth have us so fall out of discipleship that Jesus has to reprimand us with the words: "Get behind me, Satan!"

Saturday, September 8, 2012

CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY OF EASTERN AFRICA P.O. BOX 62157 – 00200 NAIROBI- KENYA Dear Respondent, I am Rev. Fr. Joseph Baptist Nyamunga, a student at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA) in the Faculty of Theology for a Master’s Programme in Pastoral Theology. I am carrying out an academic research Entitled Negative Ethnicity As A pastoral Challenge: A Case Study of 2007/2008 Post Election Violence (PEV) Kibera Slums- Kenya. I will be very much delighted for your support in answering this questionnaire. All information will be held in confidence and used for the purposes of academic study and analysis. Contact: Rev. Fr. Joseph Baptist Nyamunga, SSA. Cellphone +254722585329, Email: nyamusus@gmail.com, Tweet @ omuhulundu. Blog; http://nyamusus.blogspot.com Answer by ticking inside the box [ √ ] SECTION: A A. PERSONAL INFORMATION 1. Name (Optional)______________________________________________________ 2. Occupation___________________________________________________________ 3. Denomination_________________________________________________________ 4. Age (Tick) 15-20 [ ] 21-30 [ ] 31-40 [ ] above 40 [ ] 5. Tribe (Optional)______________________________________________________ 6. Residence/location/village______________________________________________ 7. Contact: Tel Email: BACKGROUND INFOR MATION 1. Gender: Male [ ] Female [ ] 2. Indicate your Class: Student [ ] teacher [ ] business [ ] Religious [ ] unemployed [ ] 3. Level of education 1. Primary school [ ] 2. Secondary school [ ] 3. Completed secondary school [ ] 4. Trade training [ ] 5. Undergraduate university [ ] 6. Postgraduate university [ ] QUESTIONS 1. Do you think people planned the clashes prior to the election of 2007? Yes [ ] No[ ] Give reason for your answers…………………………………………………….. …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 2. Who do you think planned the Post election violence?............................................. ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 3. Who do you think won the top seat in the general election?..................................... Give reason for your answers………………………………………………………. ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 4. According to you what caused the fight after the general election of 2007?.......................................................................................................................... ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 5. Who fought who and why?........................................................................................ ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 6. According you was it right to have a coalition government? Tick Yes [ ]No [ ] Give reason for your answers……………………………………………………... …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 7. Did the coalition government bring unity in the country? Tick Yes [ ] No [ ] Give reason for your answers…………………………………………………….. ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 8. Was it right to take the case to International Criminal Courts (ICC) Hague? Tick Yes [ ] No [ ] Give reason for your answers………………………………………………………. ……………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………............................................ 9. Were the suspects the right ones? Tick Yes [ ] No [ ] Give reason for your answers……….……………………………………………. ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 10. Why is there tribalism in Kenya?.............................................................................. ………………………………..…………………………………………………….………………………………………………………………………………………………..……………………………………………………………………………. 11. Why do you think Kenyans vote on tribal lines? ………………….……………. ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 12. Are political parties in Kenyan tribal? Tick Yes [ ] No [ ] Give reason for your answers……………………………………………………. ………………………………………………………………………………………….. ………………………………………………………………………………………….. 13. Why is there tribal hatred in Kenya? Tick Yes [ ] No [ ] Give reason for your answers………….…………………………………………. ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 14. Why do tribes in Kenya clash?................................................................................... ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 15. As a Kenyan are you proud of your tribe? Tick Yes [ ] No [ ] Give reason for your answers………………….…………………………………. ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 16. What do you think are the causes of tribalism in Kenya?......................................... ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………… 17. Do you think tribalism/negative ethnicity can be ended in Kenya? Tick Yes [ ] No [ ] Give reason for your answers………………………………………………………. ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 18. Can you vote for someone who is not of your tribe? Tick yes [ ] No [ ] Give reason for your answers………………............................................................. ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………... ……………………………………………………………………………………… 19. Do you believe that the church can help in bringing healing this country from her ailments of tribalism? Tick Yes [ ] No [ ] Give reason for your answers………………………………………………………. ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 20. Should the Kenyan church get involved in politics of this country? Tick Yes [ ] No [ ] Give reason for your answers………………………………………………………. ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 21. According to you as a Kenyan citizen how can tribalism/negative ethnicity be ended in this country……………………………………………………………... ……………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………… 22. According to you, how can the internally displaced persons be settled? ............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 23. Will you vote in the next general elections? Tick Yes [ ] No [ ] Give reason for your answers………………….……….…………………………. ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 24. If you were the president of this country how would you handle the issue of tribalism?........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 25. Do you think there are some groups being targeted in this country? Tick Yes [ ] No [ ] Give reason for your answers…………………………………………………….. ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 26. Why do you think land clashes rear its ugly head whenever there is general election? ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………… 27. Do you think land issue in Kenya has been too politicized? Tick Yes [ ] No [ ] Give reason for your answers……………………….……………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 28. Do you think Kenyans are volatile by nature? Tick Yes [ ] No [ ] Give reason for your answers………………………………………………………. ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………………………………….. 29. Why do you think churches were burnt? ……………………………………….. ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 30. According to you what does it mean to be a Kenyan? .......……………………….. ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………… 31. Do you as a Kenyan, what comes first, your tribe or the nation? …………………. Give reason for your answers………………………………………………………. ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………… 32. Do you think there are communities destined for ruling in this country? Tick Yes [ ] No [ ] Give reason for your answers………………………………………………………. ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

KAVA ASSEMBLY 21st - 27th 2012 at Dimisse Sisters -KAREN

<b>THE KAVA ASSEMBLY 2012 The Theme: “Vocation: God’s gift of Love” Time: Arrival 21st of October 2012. The Assembly ends on Friday 26th October 2012 evening. Departure for the Borders is Saturday 27th Morning. The payments:  The following are the agreed upon payments during the KAVA National executive Meeting held on the 5th of July 2012 at Dimesse Sisters.  Registration fee Kshs. 2,000/=  Food and Accommodation for the Borders, Kshs. 11,000/=  The commuters, Kshs. 5,000/=  Therefore:  Total amount for a Border, Kshs. 13,000/=  Total amount for a commuter, kshs. 7,000/=  The payments can be made as follows:  Through the Treasurer KAVA, Sr. Mary Kanyi, M-pesa number, 0725-820-142Cheques, from Up-country add the withdrawal fee of kshs. 200/= The cheques can be given to Sr. Rhoda at Dimesse in advance or bring on the reporting day, during registration.  The amount for Registration has been allotted in order to fund some of the logistics involved in the entire process. Please, do cooperate. NB: in order to facilitate the smooth running of the assembly especially the opening day, the Commuters from around Nairobi, could see the possibility of registering themselves on the Sunday 21st October 2012. This will help us to start on time the following day for the opening remarks. THE KAVA 2012 NATIONAL ASSEMBLY, OCTOBER, 21st to 27th 2012 DIMESSE SISTERS NAIROBI Proposed general theme: “Vocation: God’s gift of Love” THE FACILITATORS AND THEIR TOPICS THE FACILITATOR THE TOPIC DAY/DATE/TIME Fr. Pierli Mccj (Tangaza, Social Ministry Institute) Africae Munus: The Ministerial implications and Vocation animation Monday 22nd, morning session Sr. Agnes Lucy Lando (Daystar Univ) Information Technology: Effects on Vocation Animation Monday 22nd, Afternoon Session or Wednesday 24th morning session Sr. Marylyn Atimango (Chemichemi) Understanding of the Human Person and Vocation as a gift Tuesday 23rd, afternoon session Fr. Dominic Wamugunda(UON) The Mission of the Church and Social Transformation Tuesday 23rd Morning session Mrs. Abuya (from the KEC, family Secretariat) The Family: The school of Vocation Wednesday 24th afternoon session Fr. Raphael Wanjohi (Nyeri) Vocation animation and the healing Ministry Thursday, 25th Morning session Fr. Patrick Thawale (CUEA) Evaluation and Assessment of Candidates to Religious and priestly life Thursday, 25th Afternoon Session KAVA: NATIONA ASSEMBLY 2012, PROPOSED PROGRAM The general program(Tentative): ( In case of any changes it will be communicated) DAY/DATE/TIME EVENT FACILITATOR SUNDAY 21ST OCT. 2012 ARRIVAL/REPORTING/REGISTRATION National office/dimesse MONDAY, 22ND OCT, 2012 8:30 – 9:30 A.M KEYNOTE ADDRESS CHIEF GUEST 9: 45 – 11:00 A.M; SESSION 1 FR. PIERLI 11:00 – 11:30 A.M TEA BREAK ALL 11:30 – 12:30: INTERACTIVE SESSION FR. PIERLI 12:30 P.M: LUNCH ALL 1430 HRS – 1600 HRS: SESSION 2 SR. AGNES LANDO 1600 HRS- 1630 TEA BREAK ALL 1630HRS TO 1730 HRS: INTERACTIVE SESSION SR. LANDO (AFTER THE DAY’S SESSIONS, THE BOARDING MEMBERS WILL BE INFORMED CONCERNING THE PREP. FOR EUCH. CELEBRATION) TUESDAY 23RD OCT 2012 9.00 A.M – 10: 30 A.M SESSION 3 FR. DOMINIC WAMUGUNDA 10: 30 – 11:00 A.M: TEA BREAK ALL 11:00 – 12: 30 A.M: INTERACTIONS ON THE TOPIC FR. DOMINIC WAMUGUNDA 12: 30 LUNCH 1430 HRS – 1600 HRS: SESSION 4 SR. MARYLYN ATIMANGO 1600 – 1630 TEA BREAK 1630 – 1730HRS: INTERACTIONS ON THE TOPIC SR. MARYLYN ATIMANGO WEDNESDAY, 24TH OCT, 2012 9.00 A.M- 10: 30 A.M: A TALK FROM Mons. FRANCIS BONICCI (SESSION 5) MONS. FRANCIS BONICCI 10.30 – 11:00 A.M. TEA BREAK 11: 00 – 12:30 Interactions on the talk MONS. FRANCIS BONICCI 1230HRS: LUCNH 1430- 1600 HRS: SESSION 6 MRS. ABUYA (KEC, FAMILY UNIT) 1600 – 1630 HRS: TEA BREAK 1630- 1730 HRS: INTERACTIONS ON THE TOPIC MRS. ABUYA THURSDAY, 25TH OCT, 2012 9.00 A.M – 10:30 A.M: SESSION 7 FR. RAPHAEL WANJOHI 10:30 – 11;00A.M: TEA BREAK 11:00 – 1230HRS: INTERACTIONS ON THE TOPIC FR. RAPHAEL WANJOHI 1230 HRS LUNCH 1430 HRS – 1600HRS: SESSION 8 FR. PATRICK THAWALE 1600HRS – 1630 HRS: TEA BREAK 1630 HRS – 1730 HRS: INTERACTIONS ON THE TOPIC FR. PATRICK THAWALE FRIDAY, 26TH OCT, 2012 9.00 A.M – 10:30 A.M: UNITS MEETINGS AND ELECTIONS UNITS OFFICIALS 10:30 -11:00 A.M: TEA BREAK 11;00 – 1230 HRS: UNITS REPORTS NATIONAL OFFICE 1230 HRS LUNCH 1430 HRS TO 1600HRS: UNITS REPORTS AND ELECTION OF NATIONAL OFFICIALS NATIONAL OFFICE 1600 HRS TO 1630 HRS; TEA BREAK 1630 HRS TO 1730 HRS: EVALUATION AND CLOSING SESSION NATIONAL OFFICE 1900 HRS: SUPPER FOLLOWED BY SOCIAL EVENING ALL

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

OUR INNER GARMENT

OUR INNER GARMENT Many things divide us: language, race, ethnicity, gender, religion, politics, ideology, culture, personal history, temperament, private wounds, moral judgment, it’s hard, in the face of all this, to see people who are different from us as brothers and sisters, as equally important citizens of this world, and as loved and valued by God in the same way we are. And so we often live a certain distrust of each other. Sadly too often demonize each other, seeing danger where there is only difference. We then either actively oppose someone or simply steer clear of him/her and caution our loved ones to stay clear as well. Consequently, we are staying in the world, where various groups stay from each other: liberals Vs the conservatives, protestants Vs Catholics, Jews Vs Arabs, Arabs Vs Christians, Moslems Vs Buddhists, blacks Vs white races, pro-life Vs pro-choice groups, feminists Vs traditionalists etc. what we fail to understand is that these are all differences that represent outer garments, things which are at the end incidental to our real selves. We wear more than physical clothing to cover our nakedness too with a specific ethnicity, language, religions, identity, culture, political affiliations, ideology, set of moral judgments, and a whole garment of private wounds and indignation. These are in essence our outer garments. But we also have an inner garment, our real substance identity and capacity to act with larger hearts lies underneath. What lies beneath our outer garment? In the gospel of John 13:2-5 when he describes Jesus taking off his outer garment, it means more than just the stripping of some physical clothing, some outer sash that might have gotten in the way of his stooping down and washing someone’s feet. In order to let go of the pride that blocks all human beings from stooping down to wash the feet of someone’s different than oneself, Jesus had to strip off a lot of outer things (pride, moral judgments, superiority, ideology, and personal dignity so as to wear only his inner garment). What was his inner garment? As john poetically describes it, his inner garment was precisely his knowledge that he had come from God, was going to God, and that therefore all things were possible for him, and including his washing the feet of someone whom he already knew had betrayed him. That is also our true inner garment, the reality that has deeper beneath our race, gender, religion, language, and personal history (with all its wounds and false pride) What is most real is that deep down beneath these other outer, things we nurse the dark memory, the imprint the brand of love and truth, the inchoate knowledge that like Jesus, we too have come from God, and therefore are capable of doing anything, including loving and washing someone else’ feet different from us. Our inner garment is the image and likeness of God inside of us. Its only if we realize this that liberals and conservatives, Arabs and Muslims and Christians, black and white wounded in different ways can begin to stop demonizing each other, begin to reach across to each other, begin to feel sympathy for each other, and begin, together, to build for the common good beyond our wounds and differences. Mostly it’s only in the face of mutual helplessness and sorrow, at funeral, that we are capable of forgetting our differences, putting away our outer garments and seeing each other as brothers and sisters. In the biblical story of job, we see that it’s only when job is completely down and out, when he is shown of every outer thing that he can cling to, that he finally sheds his outer garment and utters the timeless line: “Naked I came from mother’s womb, and naked I go back!”We need to be careful what kind of clothing we put on so that the pain of job is not required to remove it. Coping with divine fire within Our life is short sometime in expectation, a time in which sadness and joy kiss each other at every moment. There is a quality of sadness that pervades all the moments of our life. It seems there is no such a thing as clear-cut pure, even in the most happy moments of our existence we sense a tinge of sadness. In every satisfaction there is an awareness of limitations. In every success, there is fear of jealousy. Behind every smile, there is a tear. In every embrace, there is loneliness, in every friendship, distance. And in all forms of light, there is the knowledge of surrounding darkness. We have to look forward to the day when hearts will be filled with perfect joy that no one shall take away from us. Henri Nouwen wrote that the older we get the more we experience its truth. In this life there is nothing such as a clear cut pure joy, but doesn’t make our lives less-worth living, it simply changes our perspective. Karl Rahner said “in the torment of insufficiency of everything attainable, we learn that here in this life, all symphonies remain unfinished” we aren’t restful creatures who occasionally get restless, fulfilled people who. Occasionally are dissatisfied, serene, people who occasionally experience disquiet. We are restless people who occasionally find rest, dissatisfied people who occasionally find fulfilment, our headaches and emotional feelings, heartaches have their roots in what is best in us than in what is worst in us. It’s difficult to live in this world and be satisfied, humble, chaste, and not jealous of others. No wonder they are so many wars, jealousies in this planet, we often many times see others as rivals, given in rage and murder each other. It is not a simple thing to carry infinity in a finite body and finite world. Augustine summarized it all. We are restless Lord, until our hearts rest in thee.

MOVING BEYOND BAD HABITS

MOVING BEYOND BAD HABITS We all have our faults, weaknesses, places where we short-circuit morally, dark spots, secret and not-so-secret addictions. When we're honest, we know how universally true St. Paul’s words are when he writes: "The good thing I want to do, I never do; the evil thing that I do not want to do - that is what I do." None of us are whole, saints through and through. There's always something we are struggling with: anger, bitterness, vengefulness, selfishness, laziness, or lack of self-control (major or minor) with sex, food, drink, or entertainment. And for most of us, experience has taught us that the bad habits we have are very difficult to break. Indeed, many times we cannot even find the heart to want to break them, so deep have they become engrained in us. We bring the same things to our confessor year after year, just as we break the same New Year's resolutions year after year. And each year we tell our doctor that this year will finally be the year that we lose weight, exercise more, and stick to a healthier diet. Somehow it never works because our habits, as Aristotle said, become our second nature - and nature is not easily changed. So how do we change? How do we move beyond deeply engrained bad habits? John of the Cross, the Spanish mystic, suggests two paths that can be helpful. Both take seriously our human weakness and the unyielding strength of a bad habit inside us His first advice is this: It is very hard to root out a bad habit by trying to attack it directly. When we do this we often end up unhealthily focused on the habit itself, discouraged by its intransigence, and in danger of worsening its effect in our lives. The better strategy is to "cauterize" our bad habits (his words) by focusing on what is good in our lives and growing our virtues to the point where they "burn out" our bad habits. That's more than a pious metaphor; it's a strategy for health. It works this way: Imagine, for example, that you are struggling with pettiness and anger whenever you feel slighted. Every sincere resolution in the world has not been able to stop you from giving in to that inclination and your confessor or spiritual director, instead of having you focus on breaking that habit, has you focus instead on further developing one of your moral strengths; for example, your generosity. The more you grow in generosity, the more too will your heart grow in size and goodness until you reach a point in your life where there simply won't be room in your life for pettiness and childish sulking. Your generosity will eventually cauterize your pettiness. The same strategy can be helpful for every one of our faults and addictions. John's second counsel is this: Try to set the instinct that lies behind your bad habit into a higher love. What's meant by that? We begin to set an instinct behind a bad habit into a higher love by asking ourselves the question: Why? Why, ultimately, am I drawn this way? Why, ultimately, am I feeling this vengefulness, this pettiness, this anger, this lust, this laziness, or this need to eat or drink excessively? In what, ultimately, is this propensity rooted? The answer might surprise us. Invariably the deepest root undergirding the propensity for a bad habit is love. The instinct is almost always rooted in love. Just analyze your daydreams. There we are mostly noble, good, generous, big-hearted, whole - and loving, even when in our actual lives we are sometimes petty, bitter, selfish, self-indulgent, and nursing various addictions. We have these bad attitudes and habits not because we aren't motivated by love but because, at this particular place, our love is disordered, wounded, bitter, undisciplined, or self-centered. But it's still love, the best of all energies, the very fire of the image and likeness of God within us. And so we move to uproot a bad habit in our lives by, first of all, recognizing and honouring the energy that lies beneath it and inflames it. Then we need to reset this energy into a higher framework of love, a wider, less selfish, more respectful, more-ordered perspective. And that's a very different thing than denigration or repression of that instinct. When we denigrate or repress an instinct this only increases its power in us and, most often, allows it to wreak even a worse havoc in our lives. Moreover, when we denigrate or repress an instinct that's undergirding a bad habit we are in fact acting against our own health and we will then struggle, perhaps only unconsciously but without exception, to even find the heart to eradicate that bad habit. Energy must be honoured, even as we struggle to discipline it and set into a healthier framework. So how do we finally break our bad habits? We do so by honouring the energies that enflame them and by reordering those energies into a higher love.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

FIFTH SUNDAY OF LENT

THE SEED MUST DIE

We are more troublesome to ourselves than anyone else – St. Francis del Sale

First Reading – Jeremiah 31:31-34 – The prophet Jeremiah tells a shattered people that God has not forsaken them, but will soon make a new and more intimate covenant with them.

Second reading Heb 5:7-9 – Through his obedience and suffering Christ became the source of eternal life for us

Gospel John 12:20-33 – In his death Jesus will be glorified and this will bring life to those who follow him.



THE HUMAN VULNERABILITY

We sometimes put on certain stoic faces which show that life must with courage without showing any weakness whatsoever. But life is not about hardliners, survival technicians of life. Liberators are those who fight for the common good but they never live long to see the fruits of their work.

There are usually low moments, where we reach the rock bottom, our inner life is smashed, bombarded and moving on with life becomes a nightmare and we can’t go ahead and we create short-cuts in life.

We get tired of insults and injuries in our life. In this state of exhaustion and despair, and the only way forward is throwing ourselves on our knees before God, and pray. Sometimes we tell God that we have taken stands for what we believe is right, and now we feel afraid of the consequences and what will follow.

This is when we feel the presence of God; this experience enables us to continue the struggle. This shows that we are not made of stone, we need to show that we are human, weak, and sometimes we need the other side of our life.

In all our human struggles and heroic endeavours we have to show what man or woman we are made of. Jesus experienced this in the Gethsamane amidst all the sweats of expectations and fulfilment of the father’s will.

This courage of Jesus came from prayer, for courage is fear that has said its prayers. Amidst everything else courage ought to be our mover in what we do. There is no need to pretend that we are made of granite, we must not hide our weakness and fear. Like Jesus we must turn to God in heartfelt prayer. And we must also seek human comforting as Jesus did when he asked Peter, James and John to watch and pray with him.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

THE NEED FOR CONSECRATION

We can lose our freedom for different reasons and, sometimes, for the best of reasons.

Imagine this scenario: You are on your way to a restaurant to meet a friend for dinner, a perfectly legitimate agenda, but en route you witness a car accident. Some of the people in the accident are seriously hurt and you are the first to arrive at the scene. At that moment your own agenda, dinner with a friend, is put on hold. You've lost your freedom and are, by circumstance and need, conscripted to remain there and help. You phone for an ambulance, you call for the police, and you wait with the injured until help arrives.

During that whole time your freedom is suspended. You are still radically free of course. You could leave the injured to fend for themselves and head off to meet your friend, but you would be abdicating part of your humanity by doing that. Circumstance and need have taken away your existential and moral freedom. They have consecrated you and set you apart just as surely as a bishop's blessing sets apart a building to be a church. The building didn't ask to be a church, but it's now consecrated and no longer free for other usage. So too with us, circumstance can consecrate us and take away our freedom.

In the ordinary mindset, consecration is a word that connotes things to do with church and religion. We understand certain things as consecrated, taken out of the profane world and set aside for sacred, holy service; for example: buildings (churches), persons (priests, deacons, monks, nuns), tables (altars), cups (chalices), clothing (vestments and religious habits). There is some merit in that, but the danger is that we tend to see consecration as a cultic and metaphysical separation rather than as a setting apart for service. Setting aside your freedom in order to stop and help at a traffic accident doesn't alter your humanity; it just suspends your ordinary activity. It calls you to service because you happen to be there, not because you are more special or holier than anyone else

That was the case with Moses: When God calls him to go to Pharaoh and ask him to set the Israelites free, Moses objects: Why not my brother? He has better leadership skills. I don't want to do this! Why me? And God answers those objections with the words: Because you have seen their suffering! It's that simple: God tells Moses that he may not walk away because he has seen the peoples' suffering. For that reason, he is the consecrated one, the one who is not free to walk away. Circumstance and need have consecrated him.

Our very notion of church draws on this concept. The word Ecclesia comes from two Greek words: "Ek Kaleo". "Ek" is a preposition meaning, "out of"; and "Kaleo" is verb meaning, "to be called". To be a member of the church is to be "called out of". And what we are "called out of" is what our normal agenda would be if we weren't conscripted by our baptism and by the innate demands of consequent discipleship. Baptism and church membership consecrate us. They call us out and set us apart in the same way that Moses' having seen the suffering of the Israelites took away his freedom to pursue an ordinary life and in the same way as witnessing a traffic accident on the way to meeting a friend sets aside our dinner plans for that night.

Edward Schillebeeckx once wrote a book within which he tried to explain why Jesus never married. He examined various theories and possible motives and concluded that, ultimately, Jesus never married because "it was existentially impossible" for him to marry. In essence, what Schillebeeckx is saying is that Jesus never married because the universal embrace of his love and magnitude of the world's wounds and needs simply never left him the freedom to marry, like someone on her way to have dinner with a friend but who has that agenda derailed because she witnesses a traffic accident. Like Moses, he was conscripted by a moral imperative. He didn't not marry because he judged it holier to be celibate or because he needed some kind of cultic purity for his ministry. He never married because the needs of this world simply suspended ordinary life. He was celibate not by emotional preference or by spiritual superiority, but by moral conscription.

Today the word consecration has lost much of its rich meaning. We have relegated the word to the sacristy and over-loaded it with connotations of purity and cult. That's unfortunate because both what's best in our humanity and our faith are forever trying to consecrate us. The needs and wounds of our world are constantly asking us to suspend our radical freedom, to set aside our own agendas, in order to serve.

And, like Moses, we have all seen enough suffering in this world that we should no longer be asking the question: "Why me?"

Friday, February 3, 2012

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Gospel reading: Mark 1:29-

Vs.29 On leaving the synagogue, Jesus went with James and John straight to the house of Simon and Andrew.vs.30 Now Simon's mother-in-law had gone to bed with fever, and they told him about her straight-away. Vs.31 He went to her took her by the hand and helped her up. And the fever left her and she began to wait on them. Vs.32 That evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were sick and those who were possessed by devils. Vs.33 The whole town came crowding round the door, vs.34 and he cured many who were suffering from diseases of one kind or another; he also cast out many devils, but he would not allow them to speak, because they knew who he was.

Vs.35 In the morning, long before dawn, he got up and left the house, and went off to a lonely place and prayed there. vs.36 Simon and his companions set out in search of him, vs.37 and when they found him they said, "Everybody is looking for you."
vs.38 He answered, "Let us go elsewhere, to the neighbouring towns,
so that I can preach there too, because that is why I came."
vs.39 And he went all through Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out devils.

When you are sick who do you visit to help you get better? You go to your doctor. How do you meet your doctor? You go to the surgery. When do you go to the surgery? The doctor has surgery hours and you go during these hours. There is another doctor, Jesus. He will also help you to get better. How and where do you go to meet him? You can meet him anytime you turn to him in prayer but his special surgery times are the sacraments, especially the Mass.

The more I actively participate in the Mass, the more real He becomes to us.

In the Gospel today we hear of Jesus curing Peter’s mother-in-law in Capernaum, and curing many others who were sick. (Mark 1:29-39) Jesus, who healed so many one evening in Capernaum, is willing to heal you too in this Mass and every Mass. The greatest moment for healing is when you receive Jesus in Holy Communion. During those precious minutes when you and Jesus are united very specially ask him in faith for the healing you need, and adore and praise him for all he has done for you. As well as going to your doctor when you get sick, go also to Jesus.

Prayer Reflection

Lord, answering your call is often difficult. Sometimes we are discouraged by our failures, but at other times it is success that prevents us. Like Jesus, we must go against those who admire us and the work we are doing. They want us to continue where we are, they remind us of the good we do for people, as friends, teachers, doctors, nurses or counsellors, how we take them by the hand and help them, so that the fever leaves them and they can wait on us.

They point out the people bringing to us all who are sick, and those who are possessed by devils, so that it feels as if the whole town is there crowding round the door or our houses. We ourselves are pained to leave the many who are suffering from diseases of one kind or another, or who need devils to be cast out.

Teach us to follow the example of Jesus; remind us that if we want to do your will we must learn to get up in the morning, long before dawn, and leave our house to go off to a lonely place and pray there, so that when others come in search of us saying, "Everybody is looking for you," like Jesus, we will be free enough to choose what we know is right for us.

We will go to neighbouring regions where no one else has gone, relate to those we have been keeping at arm's length, so that we can bring the good news of your love there too, remembering that this is why we have come into the world.

Lord, forgive us, your church, that we have become complacent, that we are content to congratulate ourselves at whole towns crowding round our doors. We pray that we will never lose the missionary spirit of Jesus, so that, just as he went through all Galilee, the church too will go through all areas of society and all cultures, preaching your love wherever people are gathered, and casting out every kind of evil spirit.

In the secular world too, all great people come to the time when they must step out into an area their movement has neglected up to now. Nelson Mandela, for example, decided at some point in his life that he would work for reconciliation with his oppressors. People have given up successful careers in law, medicine, finance, education or management to work for the advancement of neglected communities. It happens to all of us, at one time or another, that we find the courage to break new ground, to be reconciled with someone who had hurt our family, to move into some field where our services are needed.

This passage celebrates such moments of grace in the life of Jesus and in our lives.
In recent years, our Church has often made similar moves in many countries. It has given up its prestige and influence, risked losing the patronage of the wealthy and the powerful, and stood at the side of the oppressed, "preaching there too." It would be good to spend some time with the expression "because that is why I came." Like so many phrases in the Bible, it is brief and seemingly simple, but it can transform our consciousness radically. When the Church neglects the marginalized it is always because it has forgotten the reason "why it came".

The gospel passage reminds us that we will not take bold new decisions unless we are inwardly free, as Jesus was. It also teaches us the secret of his inner freedom - his regular, deep, personal prayer, the fact that he would "leave the house and go off to a lonely place to pray there" - another haunting little phrase isn’t it?

Be a healer to someone this Sunday and in your life.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

FOURTH SUNDAY OF THE YEAR

TEACHING WITH AUTHORITY

“People who are masters in their own house are never tyrants”. Napoleon

First Reading (Deut 18:15-20) Moses foretells the coming of a prophet who will speak God’s word to the people.
Second Reading (I Cor 7:32-35). Paul urges everyone, but especially those who are celibates to give their undivided attention to the Lord.
Gospel (Mk 1:21-28). The prophecy of Moses is fulfilled in Jesus.

Here Mark begins to tell us the kind of things Jesus did in proclaiming the kingdom.
Deuteronomy presents Moses as ideal prophet (First Reading). The prophet can never speak on his own authority, but speaks on behalf of God. The Jews believed that God would raise up in the last days a prophet like Moses. The early Christians regarded Jesus as the awaited prophet. His teaching was given with authority and confirmed by miracles, the sign that God was with him.

In today’s Gospel we see how Jesus spoke with authority, and how the ordinary people recognized this.
Today we have a glut of words from public figures that take us no where; except making noises and voices to our ears. What they say in public is so depressing and energy sacking. Very few speak with authority. People will obey them because they are in authority but they are never regarded as having authority.
Most of our leaders lack credibility; they themselves don’t believe what they are saying. That in which I do not believe I cannot adequately say, no matter how often I repeat the words.

Let us put in mind that as we reflect upon authority our character too is very important as you read this reflection, this can be a very damaging thing of all.
Emerson put it like this: ‘Do not say things. What you are stands over you and thunders so loudly that I cannot hear what you say to the contrary.’ Jesus was a true teacher different from other teachers of the day. Teachers at Jesus’ time would speak their own words he always first started by quoting their authority.

Have you met people who speak as if you have to quote them there and then “do you know who I am? Do you know where you are? “Do you know whom I represent?” those are arrogant questions which deserve no response. If you have authority people will see it you don’t need to prove it to anyone. The asked questions give the impression of official position in a given society. But where did Jesus get his authority one may ask? It came from the fact that Jesus spoke the truth. “One word of truth weighs the whole world”. (Russian proverb)
Besides, his teaching was fresh, direct, and had a transparency about it. We can site some examples: “No one cannot serve two masters… A city on the hill cannot be hidden… A camel cannot pass through the eye of a needle… you cannot pluck figs from thistles.’

St. Mark says that ‘his teaching made a deep impression on the people,’ he doesn’t tell us what Jesus said. This seems to suggest that Jesus himself was the sermon.
Ideally words should always be preceded by deeds. When people have done something and they begin to speak, people listen. Their words carry enormous weight, they have authority in them. The weakness of having many words comes from that the fat that they are not preceded, or accomplished or even followed by words.

At the root of every innumerable wrongs in our world is the discrepancy between word and deed. It is the weakness of the Churches, parties, and individuals. It gives people and institutions split personalities.
Lord, grant that what we have said with our lips, we may believe with our hearts and practice with our lives.

“No authority has power to impose error, and if it resists the truth, the truth must be upheld until it is admitted”. Lord Acton

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